This is a guest post from Michael Folling. Michael is the founder of Limitless Designs and author of 101 eCommerce Tips. He enjoys building brands and writing about eCommerce. Follow him on Twitter to chat about eCommerce.
Have you ever wanted to buy an existing eCommerce website, but don’t know where to start?
The world of buying and selling websites can seem pretty daunting, even for the most experienced eCommerce entrepreneur. Fortunately, Shopify came up with a solution to help reduce the learning curve.
With Shopify Exchange you can buy an eCommerce website to give your business a head start and bypass all of the usual steps that go into building an eCommerce brand, like writing product descriptions and building an email list from scratch.
So if the idea of buying an out-of-the-box business sounds good to you, keep reading while I walk you through the benefits of Shopify’s website marketplace as well as share some tips for helping you buy a website on Shopify Exchange.
What Is Shopify Exchange?
Shopify Exchange is a website marketplace created by Shopify for eCommerce entrepreneurs to buy and sell Shopify websites.
It’s different from other website marketplaces mainly because all websites on Exchange are powered exclusively by Shopify.
This is great if you have experience running a Shopify website already and you’re looking to expand your portfolio but don’t necessarily want to learn the ins and outs of a new eCommerce platform.
Why Buy An eCommerce Website On Shopify Exchange?
Unlike other marketplaces for buying websites, with Exchange you can feel more confident in your decision. Shopify removes many of the hurdles that are traditionally associated with buying a website.
For example, verifying a website’s performance can be a challenge because a seller could easily fake the amount of traffic their website gets. With Exchange, Shopify includes the website traffic with every listing, and because all listings are Shopify websites you can be confident that the numbers are correct, since they’re published by Shopify directly.
Additionally, Shopify also has direct insight into the amount of sales each website receives, and those numbers are published directly on the listing to help make your decision easier before purchasing a Shopify website on the Exchange marketplace.
Besides the extra layer of verification you get thanks to Shopify, Exchange is a great marketplace for buying eCommerce websites in general.
The number of websites available to purchase is one of the largest of any marketplace out there, and Shopify makes it easy to find the right website for you with their simple and intuitive search functionality.
Lastly, Shopify takes the fear out of the scariest part of buying a website, making sure you don’t get your money stolen.
To do this, Shopify partners with Escrow.com to put your money into an escrow account and only transfers your money to the seller once you’re satisfied that you’ve received everything promised by the seller.
Tips For Buying A Website On Shopify Exchange
If you’ve decided that buying an existing Shopify website versus building one from scratch is right for you, then you’re in the right place.
To help you navigate this process, I’ve put together some tips that I think you should follow to make your experience go as smoothly as possible. Here are 6 tips for buying a website on the Shopify Exchange marketplace.
1) Identify Your Goals
The first tip that I recommend anyone follow before beginning this process is to identify their goals.
Determine what the end result is that you’d like to achieve before you start browsing Shopify Exchange, as it can be easy to get distracted with all of the shiny objects you’ll come across within the marketplace.
Are you looking for a website that sells products in the same niche as your existing eCommerce business? Do you want a website that already has revenue? Or is a website that’s built but doesn’t have any customers enough?
Asking yourself these questions will help you stay focused on what’s most important to your business and make the search process go by much faster. Plus, it’s just a great practice to always identify your goals before making a large purchase.
2) Understand How To Search
Shopify Exchange’s search functionality is simple and intuitive. You can filter the number of websites for sale on their marketplace by price, revenue, age, business type, and industry.
In addition, you can sort the results by business health, revenue, price, and most recent.
Lastly, you have the ability to choose whether to display a screenshot of the website or the website’s revenue in the search results, making it easier to browse quickly.
Take a few minutes to get familiar with these features to make your search easier and save yourself a bunch of time.
3) Study Key Metrics
After you’ve identified your goals and familiarized yourself with the search process, you’ve likely found a handful of websites that fit the bill.
You’ll want to thoroughly read through each listing and identify the metrics that are important to you in order to narrow your decision down further.
Shopify helps make this process easier with sections for the seller to publish their business story, performance, expenses, and sale inclusions with each listing.
As mentioned earlier, what’s nice about Shopify Exchange is that some of the metrics are verified by Shopify.
While these metrics are helpful, they can be misleading, which brings me to my next tip.
4) Ask Questions
While the traffic and performance metrics may be helpful, they can be misleading.
For example, a website may have high revenue, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s profitable. The seller could have spent more money acquiring traffic than the website actually earned through sales.
Fortunately, Shopify makes it easy for you to contact the seller to ask questions and request more details to give you better insight into how the website acquires traffic or if they spend money on advertising.
This is also a great opportunity to find out what assets are included in the sale, in case it’s not clear from the listing or if the seller forgot to include something that you think is important.
5) Negotiate A Price
Shopify Exchange gives you the ability to submit an offer for a website if the listed price isn’t what you’re willing to pay based on your assessment of the metrics and assets included in the sale.
While asking for a discount is always uncomfortable, this step should be easier if you have a good idea of the value of the website based on your eCommerce experience. If you can provide a good reason for making an offer that’s lower than the asking amount, then you and the seller should both come out of the transaction feeling like you got a fair deal.
6) Protect Yourself
The biggest hurdle that most buyers face in a transaction such as this is protecting yourself so that you don’t get ripped off.
Fortunately, Shopify reduces that worry by providing an escrow service through Escrow.com that holds onto your money until you and the seller are both satisfied that all of the requirements of the sale have been met.
While the transaction is in escrow you’ll want to account for all of the assets that were in the “Sale Includes” section of the listing and any other assets that you discussed with the seller during your correspondence.
Shopify Exchange is an amazing resource for eCommerce entrepreneurs who are looking to buy a Shopify website, but don’t know how to navigate the crazy world of marketplaces selling websites.
With Shopify Exchange, you get an intuitive experience that will save you time, and prevent any headaches you would otherwise get from buying a complex eCommerce website.
So if you decide that buying an existing website makes sense for your business, be sure to check out Shopify Exchange and don’t forget to read our post on how to fulfill orders in Shopify before your sales start rolling in!